Pride and Prejudice

Independent Theatre. Odeon Theatre. 14 Nov 2012

The fecundity of Independent Theatre director Rob Croser never ceases to amaze me.  Not only has he penned stage adaptations of many classics, like A Tale of Two Cities and The Three Musketeers, but also theatrical compilations linking Shakespeare’s kings and another the ancient Greek tragedies.  In all that I have seen, I marvel at his acuity in compressing the narrative arc of a novel into an evening (although in some cases two).  Pride and Prejudice adds to this panoply of accomplishment – Jane Austen’s personality-charged characters fly off the page and onto the stage – each scene is a page-turner and the rather frivolous antics of early 19th century society brought the audience to bouts of empathetic anxiety, tears, joy and laughs.

Add to this romantic comedy the shear admiration for, and delight in, the performances.  Peta Shannon is the ever-present Elizabeth Bennett, one of five sisters to be married off to only the best gentlemen.  Shannon is an experienced performer in all media with amazingly only a short list of professional work.  No stranger to Independent audiences, her Bennett’s pride and prejudice, disappointments and revelations, tearful happiness and vulnerability were just so fabulous.  Bravo!  Mother hen Mrs Bennett was played by Kathy Fisher with an indefatigable natural exuberance in swelling her daughters’ bank accounts with unearned income.  Another bravo!  The desirable young men were invested with youthful yearnings by Samuel Rogers and William Cox.  Solid character acting was provided by Julia Whittle and the inventive Nicolas Ely.  The sisters were amusingly very sisterly and Rob Roach as Mr Bennett served the lines dry.

Designer Cat Kite thankfully explained her set in her programme notes – Matthew Marciniak’s colourful lights reflected off the folded hills of England which were otherwise indoor screens for the numerous upstage entrances and exits.  The whole shebang flowed like a river thanks to director Rob Croser’s disciplined direction, and he showed his cheeky side with copious humourous embellishments.  As normal, he usefully crams the program with some of his research. 

Yes, I was swept away by the story, loved the characters and longed for a happy ending to all the missteps of young lovers.  This is a night at the theatre like curling up with a good book and having a speed read.  Just ask the Wednesday night sold-out audience.  Good luck getting a ticket now.

David Grybowski

When: 9 to 17 Nov
Where: The Odeon Theatre